As Amazon continues to loom over the retail industry, some of the biggest stores in the world are pouring money into online retail, shipping logistics and other new programs to evolve their businesses.
Amazon competitors Walmart, Best Buy and Target all shared their latest quarterly earnings this morning against the backdrop of the crucial holiday season and the constant pressure of Amazon. Some did better than others with Walmart stock soaring, Best Buy slumping and Target holding steady. The earnings results give a snapshot into the e-commerce efforts of these three big retailers, all of whom are investing heavily in their online retail operations and supply chains to keep up with Amazon’s fast-shipping programs.
At Walmart, e-commerce net sales increased 50 percent over this time last year. Walmart now has online grocery at more than 1,100 stores, with plans to bring it to another 1,000 stores over the next year.
Walmart recently launched an ecommerce marketplace and online grocery operation in Mexico as well. Walmart executives said the company’s priorities going forward will be focused more on digital initiatives than brick and mortar expansion.
“In terms of capital allocation, we’re prioritizing eCommerce, technology, supply chain and store remodels over new stores and clubs, which we believe will contribute to long-term value creation for shareholders,” Walmart Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs said on a call with investors.
At Best Buy, emphasizing e-commerce while making digital and in-store experiences complementary has turned the business around in the last few years. For the third quarter in a row, Best Buy reported more than $1 billion in U.S. online revenue, and that without the bump coming from the release of the iPhone X this quarter. While online retail is making up an increasingly large share of the overall business, the company missed on revenue expectations, and its stock is down about 5 percent.
However, Best Buy is bullish on its potential this holiday season. On a call with investors, Best Buy executives said they are raising financial expectations for the fourth quarter and the year as a whole. Investments in shipping, e-commerce and supply chain strategic vision are driving the company’s optimism.
“Looking ahead, we are very excited about our plans for holiday, including a curated assortment of great new technology products, free shipping with no minimums, and a range of new capabilities such as our new in-home advisor program, an updated gift center, and same-day delivery in 40 cities,” said Hubert Joly, Best Buy CEO. “We believe we are well positioned for a successful season and therefore, we are raising our financial outlook for the fourth quarter and for the year.”
At Target, digital comparable sales were up 24 percent over this time last year. The retailer is in the midst of a three-year, $7 billion effort that includes blending in-store and digital shopping experiences and adding new shipping methods. Target offers options to pick up online orders at stores, ship items directly from stores, a drive up service and same- and next-day delivery.
“Our ultimate goal is to build a supply chain that can reliably deliver any item in our network to all but the most remote areas in the U.S. in two days or less with most items delivered in one day,” Target COO John Mulligan said on a call with investors Thursday.”
While Target is investing deeply in its digital and shipping operations, it appears that online retail is a much smaller part of its business than Walmart or Best Buy. It’s not an exact comparison, but approximately 4.3 percent of Target sales come online, while online retail at Best Buy makes up 12.7 percent of domestic revenue. Walmart does not break out online sales or revenue is a percentage of overall sales, but e-commerce appears to be its top priority, as evidenced by acquisitions like Jet.com and its competition with Amazon.
While traditional retailers with thousands of stores around the world are beefing up their online offerings, Amazon is doing the opposite and building out more physical stores. The tech giant posted a 34 percent increase in net sales for the third quarter, to $43.7 billion, with $26.4 billion in quarterly online sales. With Whole Foods Market in the fold, Amazon for the first time broke out brick-and-mortar revenue, coming in at $1.3 billion for the quarter.